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10 Best Axes in 2020

An axe remains a handy tool for loggers, preppers, and avid outdoor enthusiasts despite the invention of modern electric devices like the chainsaw. The notion that an axe hasn’t changed with the times is not true.

On the contrary, the best axes are equipped with modern axe head designs that enable users to fell trees in a relatively short time. What’s more, axes are a broad category of tools usually classified as hatchers, felling axes, or tomahawks.

Each variation has a different application. For example, the hatchet is suitable for small tasks like chopping firewood, while a felling axe is used for felling trees. Knowing the type of axe is ideal for your needs is critical to buying the appropriate product. This brief highlights the 10 best axes on the market, based on numerous customer reviews.

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1. Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe

Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe

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It was our best pick, thanks to its one-swing split design. The manufacturer has used advanced technology that makes it easy to use the tool and split logs in one swing. This woods axe is suitable for users taller than 5’9 as it has a pretty long handle (36 inches).

Despite its length, the axe feels pretty light; Fiskars X series is specially designed to have the weight distributed to optimize power with each strike. What’s more, its construction moves the load to the head of the axe; not the axe handle.

The result is a chopping axe that makes it easy to make fast, precise swings to achieve deeper cuts. With Fiskars X27, you don’t need to use a wedge or a maul. Its handle is made of Fibercomp material, which is durable and sturdy. The material is stronger than steel and a choice component in maritime and aerospace industries due to its low weight properties.

Pros:
+ Lightweight build
+ Splits logs with the first swing
+ Equipped with non-slip grip
+ Causes less fatigue
+ Delivers deep cuts

Why We Like It – This axe’s head was somewhat unique compared to other heads we have reviewed. It’s made of forged steel and has a convex design. Additionally, the edge is beveled towards the end to maximize its cutting mechanism. This design also helps keep the edge sharp for a long time.


2. Helko Werk Germany Black Forest Woodworker Axe

Helko Werk Germany Black Forest Woodworker Axe

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The Black Forest Woodworker axe from Helko Werk, a German-based company, was our second pick thanks to its authentic build and quality. It turns out the axe is this company’s flagship piece. This chopping axe makes an excellent buy for the seasoned woodworkers going for regular woodland trips.

It has a lightweight design and short build; hence, it may not be ideal for felling trees or splitting large amounts of firewood. However, if you’re walking or canoeing and want to carry a hatchet or an axe for small tasks like splitting small logs, snedding branches, or processing green wood for carving, it’s the best buy.

Its hickory handle is also relatively short (24 inches) hence more suitable for the small woodcutting tasks. It weighs 3.2 lbs with the axe head making up most of the weight 2.2 lbs. The blade has a wide profile to enable the axe to deliver the best results as a cutting tool while handling moderate splitting work.

Pros:
+ High-quality construction
+ Retains sharpness
+ Comes with axe guard oil to protect the cutting edge

Why We Like It – The cutting edge needs a little work before use, but it retains sharpness for an extended period. This is because the head is made from oil-hardened C45 carbon steel and has been heat-treated. It’s taken through an open face drop forge to get its unique shape.


3. Snake Eye Tactical Compact Tomahawk Camping Axe

Snake Eye Tactical Compact Tomahawk Camping Axe

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The axe is the best buy for woodworkers shopping on a budget or looking for a simple chopping tool without breaking the bank. This camper’s axe has a stainless steel construction that ensures it lasts long and is rust-resistant.

Its overall length is 11 inches, which makes it suitable for use in small spaces. Additionally, the cutting edge retains sharpness for a long time, so you don’t need to keep on sharpening it. It’s three-inches and has a satin finish, which improves this axe’s ability to resist corrosion. The finish also highlights the bevels on the blade while minimizing its reflective glare for more accurate cutting.

Pros:
+ Durable construction
+ Extremely light
+ Blade equipped with a satin finish
+ Comes with a nylon sheath for safe stowing

Why We Like It – We loved the rubberized handle on this camper’s axe, as it provides a comfortable grip. It also allows the user to make as many swings within a short period so you barely get tired.


4. SOG Tomahawk Throwing Axe

SOG Tomahawk Throwing Axe

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SOG has a reputation for producing the best axes, and this Tomahawk Throwing is no exception. It’s particularly ideal for inexperienced users as it has a lightweight build and a simple design that shortens the user’s learning curve.

Its overall weight 23.1 ounces, which makes it easy to carry, hold, and swing without feeling weighed down. Its handle has a stainless steel construction indicative of the brand’s stance to do away with wooden handles. Additionally, its flat edge doubles up as a hammer, and the other side allows you to pierce hard surfaces.

Its stainless steel blade is razor sharp to ensure it cuts through surfaces within the first throw. Its glass-reinforced nylon grip provides a textured surface for excellent traction when making fast strikes in combat games. The axe comes in a ballistic nylon sheath and includes a belt loop.

Pros:
+ Flat edge for hammering
+ Extremely versatile
+ Has a sharp edge for digging
+ Firm and sticky grip

Why We Like It – Like other throwing axes, the SOG Tomahawk axe is designed for multiple uses. Its utilitarian design means you can use it for tactical games, hunting, camping, hiking, backpacking, to mention a few.


5. Estwing Camper’s Axe

Estwing Camper's Axe

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Your camping trip is not complete without a multi-functional survival axe, and Estwing’s Camper’s Axe is the best buy. It is equipped to perform a range of tasks, including tree felling trees and trimming, splitting firewood, nicking timbers, and hammering tent pegs.

This camper’s axe is available in two sizes (16 and 26-inch) to meet varying user needs. Its construction enhances this product’s versatility. First, you will love its head profile and grind that make this camping axe an excellent chopper.

Secondly, its long concave blade enables the user to make deep cuts with every swing. As such, you can quickly sever small vines and limbs with one or two swings. What’s more, its head is tempered, and made from drop forged steel to enhance durability. Forged steel is an alloy of iron and carbon compressed under extreme pressure to make a strong and hard substance. Modern forged steel is created using hydraulic hammers or special machines.

The handle has sticky shock-reducing nylon that provides a secure grip. Many customers cited that the axe maintained the firm grip even when damp. Its overall length (16 inches) allows for one or two-hand grips.

Pros:
+ Easy to use
+ Durable blade
+ Edge comes sharp enough for use
+ Firm shock-reducing nylon grip
+ Comes with a durable ballistic nylon sheath

Why We Like It – Even the best axes need a little filing when bought for the best performance. However, Estwing’s camper’s axe comes ready right from the factory. The steel blade, however, needs occasional light filing to keep the cutting edge sharp.


6. Fiskars 378571-1002 X15 Chopping Axe

Fiskars 378571-1002 X15 Chopping Axe

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The axe is specially designed for tall users and those looking for an axe with long handles. It’s an excellent buy for felling large and medium-size logs, thanks to its ultra-sharp cutting edge, and unbreakable design. Like other X-Series axes, X15 Chopping axe build distributes weight evenly for increased swing speed and deep penetration for wood chopping.

Its head is pretty heavy, and the blade hardened to provide one-strike splits. The blade geometry features a unique bevel convex construction that makes it easy to remove from wood. What’s more, it comes coated with friction minimizing layer to prevent the blade from getting stuck in the wood.

Despite its massive head, its handle is made of FiberComp, which gives it a lightweight feel. Additionally, this chopping axe is equipped with an inseparable insert-mold that ensures the axe head does not loosen, causing an overstrike breakage. Its blade is made of hardened steel and maintains sharpness for a long time.

Pros:
+ Does not get stuck
+ Cuts logs with great ease
+ High wood chopping power
+ Hardened steel blade for a great bite

Why We Like It – We loved the non-slip textured grip on this chopping axe handle. It provides a secure grip throughout use and balances out the weight of the axe and the power used when making swings.


7. SOG Camp Axe

SOG Camp Axe

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SOG is known for designing tools that have a distinctly military look, and this camping axe is no exception. The axe boasts a straight black tomahawk design, a sleek, futuristic finish, and a rubberized grip. It has a flat head that functions as a hammer to pound in tent pegs and stakes.

The camping axe also makes the best buy for buyers looking for extremely light cutting tools, as it weighs 16.1 ounces. Its handle measures 11.5 inches long, meaning it’s easy to make as many swings without getting tired. Despite its lightweight build, SOG Camp Axe can double up as a survival axe, a heavy-duty camp hatchet, and a handy backpacking axe. As such, you are confident to use it to chop and split logs, pound tent stakes, and tinder breakdown. The axe comes with a ballistic nylon sheath to keep the blade safe.

Pros:
+ Sturdy construction
+ Rubberized handle
+ Can also be used as a hammer

Why We Like It – Its handle is crafted from paracord to make sure you get a firm and secure grip even in wet conditions.


8. iunio Camping Axe Multi-Tool Hatchet Survival Kit

iunio Camping Axe Multi-Tool Hatchet Survival Kit

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This multi-tool kit is the best for the avid camper, prepper, survivalist or prepper. Most buyers’ first impression is that it can only function as a tactical axe to cut logs or limbs, but it has more uses. You can use it as a survival axe to start fires, navigate the forest when lost, or build shelters; the list is endless.

This is because the tool kit consists of a range of handy pieces, including an axe that has a compass, extension bars with varying lengths, an emergency glass breaker, and survival gear (like a knife, bottle opener, fish scaler, fire-starting flint, and safety whistle).

The survival axe is easy to assemble and disassemble to tailor it to different applications. For example, you can assemble it partially to make a short axe when working on small spaces, or fully assemble it for regular use. It also makes a useful tool when used as a standalone ax.

Pros:
+ Long-lasting aluminum alloy build
+ Lightweight
+ Stainless steel blade
+ Multi-purpose tool kit
+ Easy assembly and disassembly

Why We Like It – If you are using iunio Camping Axe for camping activities, you will find the protective nylon sheath pretty useful. It’s easy to attach to the belt and comes with a Camo wrap to make sure it remains protected.


9. Mintcraft PRO 34004 Wood Splitting Maul

Mintcraft PRO 34004 Wood Splitting Maul

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One feature that makes the Mintcraft PRO Splitting Maul stand out is its unique handle. It is made from double injected fiberglass material proven to be stronger than wood and plastic. The construction helps the axe hold up to heavy-duty wood splitting jobs for an extended period.

Also, the material is resistant to rust, corrosion, and provides superb overstrike protection. Its lightweight construction of 4.5 pounds means that your body won’t develop strains or fatigue after a short period of use.

What’s more, the fiberglass handle has a rubber grip that keeps your hand from developing blisters after prolonged use. The rubber material also provides a secure grip for making splits and swings.

Pros:
+ Cutting edge retains sharpness for a long time
+ Fiberglass handle is corrosion and rust-resistant
+ Secure and firm rubberized grip
+ Extremely lightweight

Why We Like It – Mintcraft PRO 34004 has a V-shape steel head, which we found somewhat unique in comparison to other axe heads we have reviewed. The shape creates a sharp edge for splitting thick logs with one swing. The edge also retains sharpness for a long time. Additionally, the V-shaped steel head is rust and corrosion resistant.


10. CRKT Woods Nobo Tomahawk Axe

CRKT Woods Nobo Tomahawk Axe

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The axe adds to Ryan Johnson’s famous rendition of tomahawks. The manufacturer has made similar tools for the last 25 years, and the CRKT Woods Tomahawk axe was mainly designed for those looking for a handy everyday tool.

It can trim limbs and small trees when clearing a campsite and split wood for woodstove use or campfire kindling. We also found it nimble enough for bushcraft activities, like carving out shapes for tent stakes and camp-cookware.

Its head is made from 1055 carbon steel known for durability and toughness. The material is comprised of carbon steel and manganese. Manganese is the component responsible for the low wear resistance and shock absorption properties exhibited by the axe.

Additionally, this axe’s edge bevels have been ground flat for easy penetration of camp wood timbers. Their axe heads also have a hammered design for other applications like hammering nails, fencing, shaping metals, and other similar tasks.

Pros:
+ Head made of long-lasting carbon steel
+ Hickory handle provides firm grip
+ Best for multi-purpose use
+ Carbon steel, curved blade for making big bites
+ Lifetime warranty

Why We Like It – Its hickory handle not only lasts long but also provides a firm grip during use. It also feels pretty comfortable on the hands, enhancing the handle’s ability to absorb shock.


Axe Buyer’s Guide

What to look for when buying Axe

Axe

Axes are primarily designed for three uses: cutting, chopping, shaping, and splitting. As such, when buying an axe, identify if it has been equipped for your cutting application. Here’s how you do it:

The Profile of the Axe

The main component of the axe is its profile, and this determines whether the axe is designed for chopping or splitting. Cutting axes have thinner profiles than splitting axes because all the power is delivered through the first point of contact.

The thinner the point of contact, the smaller the area the force is applied. Splitting axes, on the other hand, have a broader profile to create a wedge and split the log into pieces. Be sure to cut the logs across the grain and split the through the grains.

Examine the cutting edge, too, as it determines the depth of the cut. An axe has two types of cutting edges: flat and rounded. A splitting and chopping axe has a rounded cutting edge to ensure only a small area comes into contact with the wood. As such, they achieve a deeper penetration for a better split or cut.

Shaping axes have flat cutting edges to achieve even cuts. The broad axe, for example, has one side flat to make clean, flat cuts while the other is ramped. Be sure to identify the right side, depending on your dominant hand.

Bit: Single or Double

Axe heads are broadly categorized into single and double bits. Axes with singe bits are the best for all-round woodcutting, including felling trees, limbing, and bucking. This is because they are simple to use and effective as only one point of the axe transfers energy to the wood getting chopped.

Single-bit axes have two ends: the cutting blade and the poll or the butt. The poll has a similar design as the hammer, but you should avoid using it as such. Many single-bitted axes have a curved handle to increase whip and springiness and enable the user to generate more force. Single-bit axes with straight handles are still useful as the wobble less and have more accuracy when swinging.

Double-bitted axes have two cutting edges. One of the edges is sharpened for fast and efficient chopping, and the other is dull for chewing or limbing through tough knots. Unlike a single-bitted axe that has a straight and curved handle, a double-bitted axe has straight handles.

They have a long, thin profile that generates more power and speed to enable users to swing the axe in any direction. While the long handle makes the axe more tiring to use, you still get great accuracy compared to a single-bitted axe. This is because the ends of the head have equal weight and length, providing greater balance, reducing wobbling when swinging. It explains why the double-bit axe is the best for professional lumberjacks.

Double-bit axes also eliminate the need for buying multiple single-bit axes. Whether to buy a double or single bit is a matter of personal preference. Remember, when buying a double-bit axe, you need to be more safety-conscious. Be sure to use a ballistic nylon sheath that covers both ends.

Ax Head Weight

Axe head

 

The weight of the axe head determines accuracy. Many users prefer axes with heavy stainless steel heads as they provide more force. As such, they will buy tools with ax heads with a weight of 6, 6.5, or 7 pounds, especially if participating in tactical games.

While more massive axe heads deliver greater force, the user may lose accuracy when swinging. If you are a beginner, it will help if you started with a lighter axe head, e.g., a weight of 2 to 5 pounds. Buy heavier ones when more experienced with the tool.

Handle Length

The overall length of the handle determines the accuracy, force, and the presentation of the ax bit to the wood. An axe with a long handle allows users to swing with more energy but is more challenging to control compared to those with short handles.

The overall length of the handle is measured from the top of the axe to the knob. There are two standard lengths: full-size and the boy’s axe. Axes with standard length handle measure 36 inches, but it might be a little too long for most people’s needs.

As such, the 28-inch boy’s axe and the 31-inch full-size axes are the best buys. The 28-inch boy’s axe is an excellent all-round tool, suitable for a range of tasks, including splitting wood, preparing kindling, and felling small trees.

Handle Material

Firefighter holding axe

Axe handles are made of a range of materials including metal, wood, fiberglass, and plastic. Most modern axes have a plastic build, but pros maintain that wooden handles are the best. They absorb shock, are easy to replace, and they maintain the traditional axe look.

It would help if you looked at the type of wood material used to construct the handle, its grain direction, and growth rings. Hickory handles are more long-lasting than any other wood. Also, examine the wood grain to ensure it is running vertically along the length of the handle.

Handles with grain that runs perpendicular to the bit are weaker and more likely to snap when striking a tree. The growth rings, on the other hand, should be tight, narrow, and numerous. Wood, with a pattern stronger than that, should have broadly-spaced growth rings.

The downside to wooden handles is that they are extremely sensitive to external factors. They get soaked up pretty fast when left in water and are prone to overstrike damage. An axe with a heavier head is more susceptible.

Fiberglass handles make the best alternatives for people who don’t want a wooden one. The material holds up better than traditional wooden handles. It is more expensive, but it is more durable and has excellent shock absorption properties.

A notable advantage of fiberglass over wooden handles is that it’s not sensitive to the environment as metal and wood handles. A fiberglass-handled axe can spend a night at the back of a pickup truck during cold weather, fall into a swamp muck, or get covered in oil without wearing out.

Wooden handles, however, are likely to swell and shrink when subjected to similar conditions. The only downside to fiberglass handles is that they are irreplaceable. That’s why you get lifetime warranties on products bought from manufacturers like Fiskars. Fiberglass handles also become extremely delicate when exposed to freezing conditions.

Metal handles are common in smaller axes and hatchets. They have a durable and robust build but are poor shock absorbers. Additionally, they have hollow bars that may get uncomfortable if using the tool for heavy-duty work. The most common metal used in the construction of axe handles is stainless steel. They are durable because the axe head is welded to the handle.

However, a steel handle transmits most of the shock to the user’s hands, which is pretty uncomfortable if you’re doing a lot of splitting or chopping logs. Continuous use of such steel axe handles causes joint problems. Some steel handles are reinforced with plastic to provide a sturdier and lighter tool. They also don’t wear out like wooden handles, but it can be uncomfortable to hold when damaged.

Size of the Axe

Hand carved Axe

Buyers choose the size of axe they need depending on their cutting applications. There are three sizes:

1. Small-sized Axes

This kind comprises hatchets and tomahawks hence suitable for people looking for small, lightweight, and all-round cutting tools, e.g., when going camping. Hatchets weigh 1.5-2 pounds and are 18 inches long, allowing you to split firewood, remove limbs, chop down trees, and cut branches. They are also more affordable.

Tomahawks, on the other hand, have handles measuring 14-20 inches long and don’t have a standard weight. Initially, Tomahawks were used as war axes hence remains a great alternative hunting tool today.

2. Medium-sized Axes

This kind consists of boy axes and limbing axes. Limbing axes are designed specially designed to remove limbs of felled trees and usually come with handles as long as 24 inches. Since the axes are not too large, they can be used with one hand.

3. Large Axes

You will also find large axes, including the splitting axes, mauls, and felling axes. This type is suitable for splitting large logs and felling large trees as they have handles as long as 32-36 inches. They are also heavier weighing three or more pounds.

A felling axe is specially designed for chopping logs and requires great skill to use them. Mauls, on the other hand, are larger measuring up to 40 inches and weigh seven or more pounds. They have a robust form that nearly mimics a sledgehammer, and they are not as sharp as regular axes.

People who fell large trees or have logs of wood delivered to their homesteads will find mauls pretty handy. A splitting axe has a sharper edge for chopping wood. You can also use them to split logs, fell trees, and carve stakes.

Artisanal vs. Unvarnished Handles

The best axe comes varnished, especially if the handles are painted. However, the varnish makes the surface slippery, meaning it’s challenging to control during use. A little bit of friction is critical to get full control of the axe. As such, you may need to sand the varnish off to create a rough surface or purchase an unvarnished axe.

1. What is the best AXE on the market?

We found the Helko Werk Germany Black Forest Woodworker Axe the best buy in the market. The obvious craftsmanship employed to make the axe is evident. Helko Werk, is known for making handmade masterpieces, and the Black Forest Woodworker is an excellent example.

2. What is the best AXE to split wood?

Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe is the best axe for splitting wood. As the name suggests, it is primarily designed to split wood. Its overall length, lightweight build, and ability to balance power and weight make it easy to make fast and precise splits. Also, the textured non-slip grip reduces hand stain significantly, thus improving control.

3. What is a good AXE?

The best axe should have a sturdy build, be lightweight yet functional, and tailored to your needs. When it comes to the build, examine the material used to make the handle and the blade. Wood handles are the most common, but for blades, steel is considered a choice material. Also, the user’s expertise determines the type of tool he can use.

Inexperienced users, for example, should use a light tool (weight 2 lbs), and seasoned users can handle tools as heavy as 7lbs. The guide explains several factors (the overall length of the handle, the weight of the axe head, the bit). Buyers ought to consider to ensure they buy a good wood axe.

4. Who makes the best axes and hatchets?

Gransfors bruks make the best axes and hatchets. It hand makes its products to provide long-lasting solutions to customers. What’s more, its steel blades are heat-treated to a temperature of 1200 degrees Celsius, hence their sturdy and long-lasting nature. The axe head is formed for a square piece of steel metal then embossed with the name GRANSFORS BRUKS.

One of its main offerings is the outdoor hatchet which has a steel housing on top of the haft to protect the wood. The axe category comprises splitting axes, the hunter’s axe, the carpenters, and the Swedish carving axe. The new generation of splitting axes is a choice product for users, thanks to its broad axe head and concave blade profile. It also comes with a steel sheath to reduce wear.

Fiskars is another company known to make the best hatchets and axes. It has a long history of making the best gardening tools. The Finnish based company was founded in 1649 and is remembered for its proprietary orange scissors. For every list of gardening tools on the market, one of them is likely to be from Fiskars. This is because the company makes high-quality products that are reasonably priced.

5. What is the Difference Between an Axe and a Hatchet

An axe is primarily designed for heavy-duty woodworking applications, including splitting and chopping wood. It’s used with two hands and has long handles. Hatchets, on the other hand, are smaller versions of the axe but have smaller handles and are used with one hand. They are also lighter and suitable for light woodworking applications.

Conclusion

The key to choosing the best axe is to identify your needs. If you are planning to split wood, then the Fiskars 378841-1002 X27 Super Splitting Axe is the best buy. Buyers going for a camping trip will opt for Estwing’s Camping axe. Still, if you’re looking for a more inclusive package, the iunio Camping Axe Multi-Tool Hatchet Survival Kit is an excellent alternative.

Also, identify its maintenance requirements. Does it need keeping out of external elements, regular filing, or sanding? Snake Eye Tactical Compact Tomahawk Camping Axe is a great buy if you are not all that keen about maintaining wooden handles. It’s also the right choice if looking for a durable steel head that never comes off. You also never have to worry about an overstrike or fatigue after swinging the steel head too many times.

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